Hours after a Texas police officer was fired for fatally shooting an unarmed college football player, the athlete’s father said he found little comfort in the decision.
“Relieved wouldn’t be the word,” Adrian Taylor told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. “We are all human and make mistakes and there isn’t a winner in this. You know what I mean? We are both losers.”
Adrian’s 19-year-old son, Christian, was fatally shot on Friday by Arlington, Tex., police officer Brad Miller during a suspected burglary.
On Tuesday, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said Miller had made mistakes during the incident that necessitated his firing, according to the Associated Press.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult case,” Johnson said. “Decisions were made that have catastrophic outcomes.”
In a written statement provided to The Washington Post late Wednesday, Miller’s attorney, John Snider, said Chief Johnson had engaged in Monday morning quarterbacking in deciding to fire Miller after the shooting. Johnson “used 20/20 hindsight to protect his job and appease anti-police activists,” Snider said, “Officer Miller made decisions in the heat of a violent confrontation to save his and other officers’ lives.” Snider also called Johnson’s decision “politically expedient” and said it was “an insult to the rank and file officers who put their lives on the line every day.”
The shooting is the latest in a string of deadly interactions between white police officers and unarmed black suspects in America.
Taylor’s killing came just two days before the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, the black 18-year-old fatally shot Aug. 9, 2014, by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.
As in Ferguson, Taylor’s death has led to protests.
On Tuesday evening, after Johnson announced Miller’s firing, roughly three dozen people stood outside the police station to protest. Some demanded that Miller be prosecuted for shooting Taylor, who was about to start his sophomore year at Angelo State University in West Texas.
“He got what he deserved,” Ricinda Turner, said of the police officer, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I’m just glad that he didn’t get off with killing him.”
But Taylor’s father said he felt little satisfaction in knowing that the rookie cop who killed his son had been fired.
“I’m not a man of revenge, and the results can’t bring my son back,” Adrian Taylor said. He added that he and his family were primarily concerned with burying Christian, not holding Miller to account.
“We’ll deal with that when the time comes,” he said of the possibility that Miller could be criminally charged for the killing. Taylor said he even sympathized with the cop.
“Right now I just feel sorry for my family and his family and for the whole nation,” Taylor said. “I just hope it makes a change because this is happening too much.”
In the days since his son’s death, Taylor has complained of being kept in the dark by authorities. He told the Guardian that he only learned the details of Christian’s death through a series of leaked video and audio clips, some of them reportedly obtained and released by the hacking group Anonymous.
“I’m having to find out about how CJ died on social media,” he said, using his son’s nickname.
On Tuesday, Taylor told The Washington Post that he still had no answers as to why his son had spent his last moments smashing cars and store windows at an Arlington car dealership.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I only know what you know. I don’t know any more information than anybody else in the world,” he said. “We were hoping of finding out some more information because that [person in the video] was not my son.”
Surveillance videos from the incident show Christian Taylor pulling up to the Classic Buick GMC car dealership on Friday at about 1 a.m. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound defensive back then left his own car and began wandering around the dealership’s parking lot before smashing the windows of several vehicles.
A security guard called the cops, and when six Arlington police arrived they discovered Taylor had driven his car through the dealership’s window and entered its showroom on foot.
While five of the officers remained outside of the showroom, Miller, a 49-year-old rookie who was still on probation and had no previous policing experience, pursued Taylor inside.
The rookie cop confronted Taylor and ordered him to get down on the ground, Johnson said, according to the AP. Instead of complying, Taylor began “actively advancing toward Officer Miller,” the police chief said.
Miller’s field training officer followed Miller into the showroom and drew his own Taser. Before he could deploy the stun-gun, however, the training officer heard a pop.
The training officer initially thought Miller had fired his own stun-gun, but then realized the rookie had actually shot Taylor from a distance of between 7 and 10 feet, Johnson said. When Taylor continued to approach, Miller fired his gun three more times.
During his news conference on Tuesday, Johnson said he had “serious concerns” about Miller’s use of deadly force, but that it would be up to a grand jury to decide whether the rookie’s actions were criminal.
Miller cannot appeal Johnson’s decision to fire him because Miller was a probationary employee, police said, according to the Associated Press. But Miller’s attorney is suggesting that the former police officer’s interests may have been violated by the quick decision to let him go. “A four day ‘investigation’ and media theatrics are not even close to due process,” attorney John Snider said in a statement provided to The Post late Wednesday.
It is unclear what role the FBI might play in the investigation of Miller’s actions but Johnson sounded a conciliatory tone Tuesday.
“Although the investigation is not over, my hope is that the information shared today can assist in the healing process,” the police chief said, according to the Associated Press. “Some communities and our nation have been torn apart by similar challenges.”
On Tuesday evening, Adrian Taylor said seeing Miller behind bars wouldn’t make him feel better.
“Nothing makes me happy because nothing brings my son back,” he said.
Taylor said his family has been sorely tested by the tragedy, which is all the more cruel because Adrian is himself a community activist.
“Thankful for God giving him another chance at life,” reads Adrian Taylor’s biography on the Web page of his nonprofit, Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc. “Being a hoodlum in the rough streets of Fort Worth, breaking rules and ignoring laws at a young age and later in life suffering several heart attacks which resulted in a quadruple bypass, allowed him to see how blessed he truly is.”
“The growing number of young men incarcerated is proof that our present, and future generation is in trouble,” the biography continues. “Being a father of three young men which have graduated, and still attending college, I know that we can do something, and not allow our youth to continue to self destruct.”
“That’s what I do,” Taylor said of his nonprofit work. “So for this to happen to my family when I’m trying to help everyone in the world, or every community, it’s part of God’s plan. And it strengthens me to do more so I know it’s going to help.”
Religion was helping him and his family, including Christian’s two older brothers, cope with the killing.
“Faith is the only thing getting us through,” Taylor said.
He added that his son’s funeral is tentatively scheduled for Saturday but that the family was scrambling to arrange the service.
“Nobody prepared for this,” he said.
This post has been updated.